chic dining experience over the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok
By Gilles Malaisé
Launched in 2017, the newest, most gourmet, romantic and expensive dinner cruise on the Chao Praya river is definitely superlative. A refined pleasure for the happy few, this is the complete opposite of the plebeian buffet-cruises attracting groups of Korean and Chinese tourists, constituting 99% of the traffic over the river after sunset. We did it like the 1%: invited in one of the pre-opening parties scheduled for travel agents, food writers, and chefs, and attended by the CEO of Supanniga Group, inquiring in person about his guests' impression to eventually improve what we would actually call perfection.
Let's start with the boat. Strategically sized and nicely designed to make a maximum of 40 high-end clients feel at ease, isolating at the end of the spacious tables for a romance, or socializing on the large, deep sofas astern on the lower and upper decks, it comes with a touch of contemporary elegance. Distinguishing itself very much from the other cruisers parking at River City pier, besides the Royal Orchid Sheraton & Towers.
The boarders are welcomed in style by the uniformed staff. This is Thailand! We found the same refinement like in the plush Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where we dropped our luggage as always. Contrary to many boats, Supanigga didn't make it Siamese by the design; trendy, cool, lounge-style, dinners are floating on a modern luxury cocoon. Two things capture the attention: the illuminated riverside and its landmarks... and the bar with its tempting wall of Champagne Taittinger. A prestigious partnership makes Reims so close to Bangkok, and France so close to our heart... and lips.
Almost all options include one glass of Taittinger. From the short (one hour) “Valentine's Sunset Champagne Taittinger Cruise” (THB 1,950 / person), till the most recommended “Dinner Champagne Taittinger Cruise” which we fully enjoyed during more than 2 hours, at only THB 3,250 per person (with a couple of glasses of good wine, it won't exceed THB 4,000). “Expensive” in comparison with the competitors catering with mass tourists, we found this flamboyant experience more than reasonably priced. A giveaway for western travelers, enjoying the atmosphere of a yacht for the price of a bistro in Paris!
The boat leaves its pier a 4:45 pm for evening cocktail cruise, and at 6:15 pm for the dinner cruise. It starts with a flute of Champagne, coming with “Mieng Platu Kapi Koh Chang”: an entertaining selection of amuses-bouche, grilled peanuts, dried fish, and exotic sauces for a great dip. Appetizers are Mahor (minced meat salad on a sliced orange), “Kratong Tong” (shortcrust pastry filled with curry) and our favorite, “Yum Som O Goong Sod” (spicy pomelo salad with prawn). Thai prawns are crunchy and tasty, and this was a pleasure to enjoy one more generous piece with our “Tom Yun Goong Yai”: traditional soup with mushrooms, coriander, lemongrass, and quite “pet” (spicy), with red chili. We found the food globally hot, and always liked it this way: it has to be spicy to taste like Thai! Another selection of authentic delicacies, “Sam Rub Thai” features some tapas-style portions of “Moo Cha Muang”(so fragrant pork curry with herbs), “Nam Prik Kai Pu” (most popular chili-based sauce), “Son In Law Egg” (golden-brown fried eggs), “Yum Pla Salad” (fish salad with green mango), and “Hor Mok Pu” (fish custard in a banana leave), all served with brown rice. That was the best of Thailand on a single tray! Then came the much expected “Mango Sticky Rice”, with a lot of coconut milk: this is from far the best dessert in all Asia. We are addicted!
After this dinner, well worth the best Thai restaurants in Bangkok (Sala Rim Nam for instance, or Le Du), the amazingly anticipating, so-friendly head-waiter proposed to serve our tea with “Petits Fours” , installed on a deep sofa, at the convivial club-style back section of the yacht. With a 360° panorama: the Royal Palace, Wat Pho, the Portuguese churches (one is illuminated close to River City; the other one, more discreet, is on the Thonburi side, close to Wat Arun), the colonial-style French Embassy and its park, and the rice barges descending the “Menam”. What a show! Our one and only regret: this is the ideal place for a cigar, and there was no “humidor” for the prestigious clients of this prestigious cruise. Lots of them are surely "cigar aficionados", and there is no better place like a deck to enjoy a Partagas D4 or a Montecristo N°2.
Once the all guests left the boat at River City, we asked the captain if we could stay aboard until he had his boat parked at the technical pier, at Riva Surya hotel, close to Khao San Road. That was a way to “steal” 20 more minutes aboard and to show, much more by any comment, how much we loved this thumbs up experience.
This one of the most attractive “Secret Tables” by “Secret Retreats”.
SUPANNIGA CRUISE (Head Office): 160/11 Sukhumvit 55 (Thonglor)
Klongton Nuea, Wattana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
PHONE: +66 2 714 7608 / +66 97 238 8284
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